Covid Update

Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum gives an update on COVID-19 in Tulsa on Friday. STEPHEN PINGRY/Tulsa World

The area’s limited hospital capacity is the only cushion to another mandated community shutdown, putting residents even more on notice to prevent the spread of COVID-19 by wearing appropriate face coverings and doing other things to protect others.

Health care and government officials disagree on how much overflow health care capacity the state has at this point, but they agree that surges are occurring at many institutions.

Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum has weekly conferences with local hospital officials, who say having enough hospital beds doesn’t solve the problem.

“In this current environment, one of the issues that the doctors raised in the council discussion last week is where do you find trained personnel — doctors and nurses — who aren’t already in demand and aren’t already being utilized in a different hospital, a different facility?”

The already thin margin of comfort gets thinner every time we set a new record for infections.

We all play a part in dealing with this challenge.

Wear a mask. Maintain an appropriate physical distance whenever possible. Wash your hands often and thoroughly. Follow the directional arrows at retail businesses. If you’re sick or have been potentially exposed, stay home. Don’t do things that were once ordinary but now are dangerous, such as shaking hands and hugging friends.

Such common-sense changes are the most effective weapons we have at the moment against COVID-19. They are measures that have worked in other communities, and they can work here, too — if we are smart and consistent.

If it doesn’t work, Bynum has made it clear that a return to stricter public measures, such as a mandated shelter order or the closing of nonessential businesses, are a possibility.

Masks and offering others space have become part of the new public etiquette. Until we have effective treatments or vaccines for the pandemic, those actions are essential and a matter of common courtesy.

The greater motivating danger here shouldn’t be the desire to avoid another economic shutdown. We should do all those things to avoid infecting others unwittingly and possibly spreading a potentially deadly disease to more people.

But if avoiding a shutdown is what it takes to motivate you, there’s that, too.

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